Hall of Famer and Chicago Cubs star Ernie Banks has died at 83. Some people are remembered for a single moment, but Banks won’t be one of them. He did too much for that. Yet one hot day in 1969 Banks uttered three words that defined him for the ages: “Let’s play two.” The little three-word gem was a perfect distillation of enthusiasm, never bettered. Of Mr. Cub, Banks’ undisputed nickname, current Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said in a statement: “Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time.”
Yes, Banks will be remembered for many things–including his philanthropy, his two MVPs and 512 home runs–but his enthusiasm and attitude toward life will remain the most enduring part of the Banks legacy. Banks’ saying “Let’s play two” on a 100+ degree day in Chicago when the other players were dog tired describes a love of the game as well as anybody ever has. As every 10-year-old knows, two baseball games are always better than one. By all accounts, Ernie Banks never thought otherwise.